Lawmakers tell ex-CEOs ‘you must answer’ for bank failures

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. downfall / ˈdaʊnˌfɔl / (n.) – the loss of power, success, happiness, etc.

    The company’s risky strategy led to its downfall.

  2. testify / ˈtɛs təˌfaɪ / (v.) – to give a statement about what one experienced or knows in a situation before a court of law

    The witness testified that he saw the accused near the crime scene.

  3. disclose / dɪˈskloʊz / (v.) – to let people know about previously unknown information

    The accountant disclosed that millions of dollars were not included in the books.

  4. regulator / ˈrɛg yəˌleɪ tər / (n.) – a person or organization that controls industries that offer public services, such as banking and energy

    Regulators took control over the bank after it collapsed.

  5. seizure / ˈsi ʒər / (n.) – the act of officially taking control of something

    The company’s unpaid debts led to the seizure of its assets.


Read the text below.

Leaders of the Senate’s banking committee warned former chief executive officers at the failed Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank that they expect them to testify before the panel, saying in a letter to each: “you must answer for the bank’s downfall.”

The committee is examining the events leading up to the closures of the banks, starting with the first congressional hearing on March 21. Separate letters were sent to Gregory Becker, the former head of Silicon Valley Bank, and to Joseph DePaolo, the former head of Signature Bank.

Both CEOs had indicated to the committee they would be unable to attend the March 21 hearing, according to the letter. But the senators said they believe the CEOs can testify to Congress without disclosing confidential information. Nor would the executives need to hand over bank records and files to provide informative testimony, they said.

Attorneys copied in on the letters sent to the CEOs did not immediately reply to requests from The Associated Press for comment.

Silicon Valley Bank, based in Santa Clara, California, failed on March 10 after depositors rushed to withdraw money amid fears about the bank’s health. It was the second-largest bank collapse in U.S. history. Regulators convened over the following weekend and announced that New York-based Signature Bank also had failed. They said that all depositors at both banks, including those holding uninsured funds, those exceeding $250,000, would be protected by federal deposit insurance.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic chairman of the banking panel, and Sen. Tim Scott, the ranking Republican, said the committee needs to understand how the banks managed risk during their rapid growth and what led to them both having a large proportion of uninsured depositors.

The senators also asked SVB’s Becker for information on the “payment of bonuses in the hours leading up to the seizure of the bank by regulators.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • According to the letter, both CEOs had indicated to the committee that they would be unable to attend the hearing. Do you think a company’s CEO should be held accountable for the company if it fails? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Why do you think the CEOs are refusing to appear in the trial? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What qualities do you look for in a bank (ex. high interest rates, trustworthiness)? Discuss.
  • What do you think banks should do for their clients if it fails? Discuss.